Look for native deer forages this month

Published 10:09 am Saturday, July 29, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Deer season is 48 days away if you are counting based on the September velvet season opener. At this point in the summer it is too hot to bush hog fields, too late to plant warm season food plots, trails and shooting lanes are cut and the heat stifles any sort of prescribed fire or timber stand improvement. 

The good news is you can still do management activities which require little effort other than walking your property. It can take time to see the work come to fruition but you might begin to notice certain plants growing which deer take advantage of. 

Pre-season scouting is a great time to also look and see if deer are tearing up greenbriers due to not enough variety in browse. Landowners might be able to notice changes in the environment as deer browse on plants or you can use an exclusionary cage in plots and forage openings to see how much deer eat. 

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While walking your property it is important to look for different plant options high in protein which deer like to eat. Keep in mind these are just some highlights of deer preferred plants found in Mississippi which will help deer going into the summer stress period. To see more native plants visit Mississippi State Extension Service online. 

In old field locations you can look for Brazilian Vervain. It is a forb which grows vertically with purple flowers and has on average 12.8 percent crude protein content. Deer moderately desire vervain. 

People often blame goldenrod for allergies but it is actually the ragweed growing with it that is to blame for allergy flare ups. Ragweed also grow in old field locations and is a highly desired food for deer with 19.6 percent crude protein. Golden rod is also desired by deer and offers on average 13.8 percent crude protein and will be browsed in winter and summer. Disturbance might be needed for golden rod as it can create a monoculture if left unmanaged. 

Beggars lice can be found in old field and wooded areas and is moderately to highly desired by deer with 19.1 percent crude protein. Wild lettuce is additionally preferred by deer but gives just 13.1 percent crude protein on average.

Beautyberries are a great source of fruit and leafy food for deer. Beautyberry contains 14.7 percent crude protein on average. The berries are getting closer and closer to ripening and can be found in old fields or wooded areas.